Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just Walkin' the Dog

The other day I said on someone's blog we lived in a less prurient and judgemental world. But as usual, once you make a statement like that, you're hauled up pretty short and fast when you find someone proving you wrong. On such matters of pith and moment the world turns.

Here in the UK there is a fashionable minor pastime of the slightly sexually adventurous called dogging. Dogging, and the exponents of the art, known as doggers, enjoy visiting local areas of natural beauty and indulging in sexual assignations with, generally speaking, whoever else might come along. No money exchanges hands. These are people live for the thrill of the moment. Video cameras are often involved to heighten the dramatic interest. Some people just come along to watch. It has been suggested in the popular press that a few minor celebrities are known to indulge in this particular hobby which doubtless adds a small frisson of excitement for the participants. It's all done by consenting adults and who am I (or anybody else) to judge.

Well, apparently a local council in the north of England feel they are in a position to judge. When the councillors discovered that a local area of woodland was being used for dogging they decided something must be done. You can just imagine the thought processes of petty local bureaucrats. They see something they don't like (it's usually not illegal but often frowned upon) and they will do anything they can to stop it.

In this case they decided the best thing to do was to cut down 6,000 trees. Yes, that's right. SIX THOUSAND trees. They were asked to justify their actions. As far as I can see from their responses, the exposure (as it were) of the doggers was a just a secondary reason for this drastic course of action (yeah right). The trees they say, were old, and in danger of falling down (What? 6,000 of them? At the same time?). They can be replaced with nicer trees. The Health and Safety people have been satisfied. Motorists can now drive safe in the knowledge that the trees alongside the road will not all suddenly fall down upon them.

It's amazing what lengths, even in these cash-strapped times, people are prepared to go to stop a few people having a quick knee-trembler in the bushes. It' s equally amazing and rather regrettable that these people are elected to an office which gives them a mandate to behave in this way but as they so often say, you get the politicians (ever silly little local village ones) that you deserve.

The two local coucillors quoted seem to share the same surname and I think, in small town politics, it's reasonable to assume they're Mr and Mrs. I bet they they don't go a-dogging on a Saturday night.

Darwen is a small, and as far as I can remember, rather dreary little place. Dogging is probably what passes for a pretty good night out in those parts. Unless you elect the type of local councillors who think it's their business to decide how a few of you should spend your valuable spare time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

THe UK has finally lurched out of the longest spell of winter weather that most of us have known.

I finally got out on my bike at the weekend for the first time in about three months and today used it for the first time this year to go to work. Normally I'd expect to get out about once a fortnight through the winter months.

Now I don't claim to be an all weather motorcyclist - I don't feel I need to prove I can ride a bike through a blizzard or a thunderstorm - trust me, I've done it and it's not much fun.

My journey to work is about 45 miles (70km) and I start early so I'm out the door usually at about 6:30am. This means, as far as I'm concerned, that the weather has to be at least bearable at that time of day. This morning it was about 3 degrees and had crept up to about 5 degrees by the time I got to the office. If you're moving through air this cold at any significant speed the wind chill factor is pretty cold so you still need to wrap up and even if you do, after an hour or so the cold is starting to get into your bones.

The payoff of course is the ride home at 5pm when it was about 10-12 degrees. Clear, electric blue skies and a light chill on the air. This, I think, is about right for biking. You can still wear the proper kit and not overheat but you don't get too cold either. I'm entering that part of the year when the daily commute is something to look forward to.

Happy days.